Throughout the first year, the Cincinnati Preschool Promise team and its partners have accomplished a lot and learned even more.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer Editorial Board:
After some fits and starts, Preschool Promise seemed to gain both its footing and momentum. Building the structure of any program is never easy and Preschool Promise Executive Director Shiloh Turner and her staff seem to be learning some valuable lessons from year one.
Here are a few areas Preschool Promise should focus on moving forward:
- Removing barriers. Affordability isn’t the only barrier that parents and students face in taking advantage of quality preschool. The location of providers, transportation and summer coverage are all challenges that can affect a child’s ability to take advantage of the program. Preschool Promise officials must continue to look for community partners and donors that can help fill these gaps.
- Quality improvement. Preschool Promise must step up its efforts to increase the number of community providers that meet state quality standards. Of the 6,000 or so preschool seats in CPS’s footprint, only about 30 to 40 percent of them have rated three stars or better as required to qualify for the tuition assistance. In year one, the program worked with 22 preschools on quality improvement, helping them earn the state rating they need to be eligible to participate. As demand for tuition assistance increases, Preschool Promise doesn’t want to wind up with long waiting lists for families, so ensuring there are enough state-qualified preschool seats has to be a priority.
- Communication. Turner admits the Preschool Promise staff was so busy establishing the foundation in year one that communication and outreach weren’t as sharp as they could have been. Making sure that families who can benefit the most from the program know about it and know how to interact with staff at the agency can improve. Officials can also do a better job of telling the success stories of students and parents whose lives have been changed as a result of the program.
- Measuring success. Preschool Promise doesn’t have a lot of tools or mechanisms in place just yet to track or measure the success of the program. Officials said they are working with Ohio State University to develop evaluations for the program, and that’s a good sign. But tracking how the program is impacting students academically, changing the quality of life for parents, growing the number of community providers and other economic indicators would provide valuable data to determine Preschool Promise’s return on investment.
Cincinnati’s preschool program is off to a strong start. If its leaders capitalize on lessons learned and improve, Cincinnati can expect a huge payoff in the future.
Read the entire editorial here: “Preschool program off to promising start”